Do networked workers ever get a day off?

There are both pros and cons associated with freely available internet.  When you consider momentous events such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall or even lesser events such as the inception of the Passenger Bill of Rights, one thing that each of these events have in common (regardless of their magnitude) is that they would not have been possible without the availability of the internet.  Shirky (2008) describes various events that have occurred over the past few decades, often explaining how the average person or consumer was provided with a powerful voice to communicate with the corporations via the internet.

The internet allows for people to form relationships, or become networked together, with the click of a button.  Common hobbies, goals, desires and even complaints can be sought and an ally can be easily located.  With this unlimited access to communication comes a checks and balances system to ensure that organizations are behaving appropriately and ethically.  If not, they are quickly brought into the spotlight and “justice is served.”  Another benefit from the numerous networks that exist today is the transparency that it exists in the workplace (Shirky, 2008).  Employees are able to work efficiently, communicating with the appropriate people at the appropriate time, and there is no need for management, or the “middle man” to be involved.  Finally, networked workers are able to work from anywhere.  Many can telecommute from home or another location and address their professional responsibilities.

Just as challenges surface as the result of any new technology, they will continue to arise from time to time.  Yes, the internet gives a voice to terrorist groups, allowing them to assemble and communicate their messages of hate.  Yes, it has driven the profits previously associated with many different professions much lower with its inexpensive options for advertising, communication, etc.  Yes, it makes everyone “reachable” regardless of where they are.  And yes, it has pushed many countries to the brink of considering various forms of censorship.  While these challenges must be considered, it is important to remember that they are only “blips” in the big picture of our current wired world.

Wired access can quickly consume much of your day as a result of the ease of access.  Madden and Jones (2008) point out that while there are many benefit of being “networked,” it also adds a layer of stress to employees. Are you truly ever off from work?  With access to your email on your desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, etc. when is it too late late to assume an answer to your message?  Professionals must take a step back and remain cognizant of the role the ability to be “networked” plays in their life.

The expectation for responsibility must be something that is considered in each scenario.  While inappropriate messages and images are posted on the internet every second, if people can begin to take more ownership for their own personal actions in regards to the internet, the challenges will blossom into opportunities.  I explain this to my middle school students in a similar fashion.  I tell them that their access to the internet is a privilege, not a right in my building.  If they abuse that privilege, their access will be taken away.  Over the past seven years as a school administrator, I have only had to revoke that privilege three times.  It’s too bad we couldn’t instill this rule for all of society!References

Madden, M. & Jones, S. (2008). Networked workers. PowerResearch Internet Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/09/24/networked-workers/

Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization. New York: Penguin Press.

 

Connections + Collaborations = the 21st Century Learner

The impact of the internet on the field of education has been revolutionary.  In Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody, the inception of Wikipedia was referenced as one of the most significant outcomes of social media.  Though it had no “owners” and made no money, people became vested in its success.  As the only nonprofit in the top twenty list of websites, Wikipedia’s unique user “flexibility” model allows for anyone to contribute to its articles on asphalt…to Koch snowflakes (Shirky, 2008).

Changes in education very much mirror the changes we have witnessed in how people are now able to access information.  The transition from the “traditional encyclopedia” to the collaborative effort of Wikipedia has undoubtedly changed the way our students learn in their classrooms.  Formal textbooks have been replaced with ebooks that can be updated with the click of a button.  Students no longer visit the library’s card catalog to look up information but rather hop on the Web and search for their facts.  As an educational leader it is imperative that I stay up to date on the current technologies so that I can share this information with my school community.  Professionally, I have embraced the internet and consistently encourage my staff and students to do so as well.

Web 2.0 tools have proven to be a huge asset to me in my role of Principal.  Specifically, Google Apps for Education has been amazing to work with.  I converted my school’s website and email system over to Google at the beginning of last year.  Not only was this a huge cost savings for us, but it was also much more user-friendly for my teachers.  We are now able to seamlessly integrate Google Drive, Google Circles, Google Calendar, etc. as a staff.  Agendas for faculty meetings are created collaboratively in Google Drive, the computer lab schedule or the iPad cart sign-out is shared in Google Calendar so it remains current at all times.  In addition, this year we had to update our School Improvement Plan.  Each committee was able to complete their portion in Google Drive without sitting together for hours with their peers.  It has made our school much more productive and vastly improved the communication amongst our staff.  My teachers feel empowered as contributors to the decisions that are made regarding our school.

As a leader, I am aware of the significant role ‘wirearchy’ has come to play in the corporate world.  It’s interesting to consider that ‘wirearchy’ is less about the actual technology and more about the connections and collaborations that result from the availability of the technology.  Leaders must recognize this and provide opportunities for these types of interactions for their employees.  Businesses no longer function in an isolated corporate world, but rather, as a result of this notion of ‘wirearchy’ they have become connected and networked together.  Humans, as social creatures, are able to benefit from these types of relationships and work together to achieve common goals.  As a result, workflow and production become more efficient but de-routined (Egham, 2010).

Education is one of the few fields in which some sort of routine must remain intact.  Aside from the gaining popularity of virtual schools, school days begin and end at set times.  Throughout the school day, students and teachers follow a pre-determined schedule of classes.  It is what is occurring during those classes that has begun to vastly evolve.  Schools are now focused on their students as “21st century learners” and have begun to realize that what has traditionally worked in the past must now change.  The new buzz words in education today such as “blended learning” and the “flipped classroom” indicate that teachers are teaching differently because they have begun to realize that as a result of the Internet and Web 2.0 tools, students are learning differently.  Just as Gartner (2010) released its list of the “10 Key Changes” in the nature of work, these will most likely be adapted in order to exist in the educational setting.  As more and more of my teachers embrace these new methods, it is exciting to witness the increase in excitement and engagement of students in their 21 century learning environments.

References

Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody. New York: Penguin Press.

Egham, UK. (2010, August 4). Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1416513

Husband, J. (2014).  Wirearchy. Retrieved from http://wirearchy.com/what-is-wirearchy/

And Away we go… into the Cloud Environment with Knowledge Management

Reflect on Shirky’s concept of “publish -> then filter” and its relationship to knowledge management.  If knowledge is now socially developed, what is the role of leadership in knowledge management?

One of the greatest quotes I have read by Shirky (2008) appeared in Chapter 4 when he asked, “Surely it is as bad to gorge on junk as to starve? (p. 83).  What he frequently refers to as “user-generated content” is the result of society’s tendency to “publish, then filter” (Shirky, 2008).  As we all heard in Shirky’s TED talk (2009) in Week 1, “we are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race.”  This concept of publish, then filter has inundated social media and the overall ability of society to rely on the Internet as a source of information with communications media (communication intended to be between two people) (Shirky, 2008).  This has, as a result, drastically changed the nature of knowledge management.

As we are aware, knowledge management became an integral part of organizations in the early 90s as leaders began to determine the best way to “house” it and provide access to it for the employees.  Fast forward to where we are today, and knowledge management has drastically evolved.  Social media and web 2.0 tools have required leaders to relinquish control over KM and promote contribution and collaboration amongst employees.  Dixon (2012) stated that people are more honest in regards to their opinions and ideas through technology rather than face-to-face.  If this is the case, leaders must provide their employees with opportunities to make this happen.

Describe the evolution of knowledge management as impacted by the web.

Knowledge management has evolved from an individual-focused mindset in the early 90s to the more collaborative, group-effort of today.  There have, however, been significant milestones in this development along the way as a result of shifts in mindsets and the introduction of the World Wide Web.  As we have read this week, Nancy Dixon (2009) references three distinct knowledge management categories.  The first is leveraging explicit knowledge and it “is about capturing documented knowledge and creating a collection from it – connecting people to content.”  Prior to the Internet, organizations operated independently from each other, organizing and storing their knowledge so their own employees could access it, but no one else.  Dixon (2009) described the mental image of a warehouse housing the knowledge as if it was a commodity that needed to be managed rather than a constantly evolving entity within an organization.  With the introduction of the Internet, explicit knowledge was able to be stored on servers so that it could be shared from company to company and easily accessed by employees at all levels.  

According to Dixon (2009), the second category of leveraging experiential knowledge “gave rise to communities of practice and social networks”. The goal of this category was to connect people to people (Dixon, 2009).  The internet allowed for people to connect with each other via the World Wide Web to collaborate and share knowledge.  Though Web 2.0 tools had not yet evolved when experiential knowledge was first recognized within knowledge management, the formation of networks became present on the Web.  The Internet allowed for relationships to form between employees within the same company as well as others.  It also provided an opportunity for knowledge to be exchanged between people via the World Wide Web.

The third and final category is leveraging collective knowledge and it is “primarily about conversation both in its virtual and face-to-face forms” (Dixon, 2009). This category is all about the “conversation”— who is in it and what is it about (Dixon, 2009).  It is within this category that we see the evolution of Web 2.0 tools making a significant impact.  “Research indicates that people are more honest about their ideas and concerns when communicating over digital media, than they are in face-to-face situations” (Dixon, 2012). Dixon (2012) further stated that many organizations today use blogs to promote communication between employees regarding concerns and ideas.

Discuss ways that web-based tools can improve the management of information and knowledge.

Web-based tools allow organizations to effectively meet the rising demands for information and knowledge.  More importantly, they allow for accessibility of this information by the employees.  Training classes and the traditional distribution of information, though they still exist, have been replaced by webinars, blogs, wikis, etc.  Dr. Anupam Kumar Nath (2012) found that the use of Web 2.0 for KM in an organization “paves the way for the employees to earn the reputation of being an expert in the use of a tool and/or technology within the organizations and at the same time creates an opportunity for the employees to acquire knowledge and gain help from the expert and/or knowledgeable people within the organization.”

These tools can also assist with the overall management of the information and knowledge. People are able to search for specific topics, virtually collaborate in “real-time” with colleagues and publish their research and ideas to the Web for the world to see and respond to.  Organizations are no longer isolated, sharing their own knowledge within company ranks to their own employees.  Rather, web-based tools allow organizations manage their knowledge publicly, and as a result, learning from each other rather than by themselves. 

References

Dixon, N.  (2009, July 30).  Where Knowledge Management Has Been and Where It Is Going.  Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-three.html

Dixon, N.  (2012, August 8).  The Three Eras of Knowledge Management.  Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2012/08/the-three-eras-of-knowledge-management.html

Nath, A.  (2012).  Web 2.0 Technologies for Effective Knowledge Management in Organizations:  A Qualitative Analysis (Doctoral dissertation).  Retrieved from http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/Nath_uncg_0154D_10898.pdf

Shirky, C. (2009, June 16).  Clay Shirky:  How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_iN_QubRs0&feature=youtu.be

The “Facebook” of Education: Edmodo

How did Edmodo begin?

Edmodo was created by two school district employees from Chicago, Illinois, Nic Borg and Jeff O’Hara (Tate, 2014).  Both Borg and O’Hara worked in the IT department of school districts and spent the majority of their time safeguarding the students’ access to social networking and appropriate websites (Edmodo, 2014).  They decided that there must be a better solution.  Borg and O’Hara were attempting to “bridge the gap between how students live their lives and how they learn in school and as a result, Edmodo was created to bring education into a 21st century environment” (Edmodo, 2014).  Completely free to educators and districts, Edmodo’s popularity relies on teachers’ desires to incorporate this tool within their classrooms.  

Edmodo’s recognition

It seems to be working! One of its founders, Nic Borg, was recently named to “Forbes 30 under 30” list and “San Francisco Business Times 40 under 40” (Edmodo, 2014).   Edmodo also received recognition by PCMag as one of the “Top Apps for Teachers,” “2014 BETT Awards Finalist” and “2013 Bammy Awards: Best Teaching Tool” (Edmodo, 2014).  It is commonly referred to as the “Facebook” of education as it allows students and teachers to collaborate together by “posting assignments, creating polls for student responses, embedding video clips, create learning groups, posting quizzes for students to take, and creating a calendar of events and assignments” (Wikipedia, 2014).

Edmodo was recently featured in an article by Wired magazine in which the author, Ryan Tate, compared the stringent state and federal mandates that are being forced upon schools to the relaxed, “bottom up” improvement strategy that Edmodo is using (Tate, 2014).  “K-12 is an incredibly change-resistant system, and to be disruptive, you have to do it in the least disruptive way possible,” says co-founder and chief product officer Nic Borg (Tate, 2014).  The increase in users indicates that this approach utilized by Edmodo is working.  Launched in 2008, Edmodo “now counts 35 million users, including students and parents as well as teachers. That’s up from 15 million last year and 1 million at the end of 2010. It has now signed up more than 60,000 schools and school districts, including 91 of the 100 largest districts in the U.S., where three quarters of its users live” (Tate, 2014).

Edmodo today

By 2010, Edmodo had relocated from Chicago to Silicon Valley (Tate, 2014).  Crystal Hutter, a former Oracle engineer and investment manager at Omidyar Network was asked to join the company as it began to gain momentum (Tate, 2014). Transitioning from COO to CEO, “Hutter has helped reconcile the ad hoc, grassroots spirit of Edmodo with the buttoned-down realities of the education system” (Tate, 2014). Since her arrival, Edmodo has added tools that let school and district administrators to do basic account management and track use of the service (Tate, 2014).

The flattening effect

In a column Hutter wrote for edtechdigest.com, she described “a deeper focus on learning measurements combined with actionable insights, data-driven content recommendations and rich, connected classroom communities can bring us that much closer to achieving what the industry has been working toward for decades—a high quality and personalized education for each student, no matter their location, background or socioeconomic status” (Hutter, 2014).  Friedman (2005) wrote of a similar effect from technology in his book, The World is Flat.  Technology, for people that are connected, allows the audience to play a more active role, just as Edmodo engages students and allows the teacher to take on more of a “facilitator” role.  One of the main goals of Edmodo appears to be to help teachers communicate with each other. Using the Edmodo platform, they can connect one-on-one or in teacher-only groups focused on particular subject areas (Tate, 2014).  This world “flattening” technological capability allows teachers from all over the world in different demographical areas to collaborate with each other.  As long as they have Internet capability, teachers can connect using their computer or smart phone.

What’s up next?

Next up for Edmodo is the launch of its first revenue-generating tool, Snapshot (Tate, 2014). Snapshot is a set of quizzes that will help teachers determine how well their students are mastering the Common Core State Standards (Tate, 2014).  Snapshot will be free for teachers but Edmodo “anticipates offering premium tools at the school and district levels” that will allow for data capture and analysis (Tate, 2014).

Personally, I have registered for Edmodo’s online professional development workshop (registration link below) in hopes of being able to turn-key the information to my staff once the school year begins.  We are beginning a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative with our middle school students this year, and Edmodo sounds like it can be an invaluable addition to our classrooms.

Additional information for educators:
Here is an informative breakdown of Edmodo available in Wikispaces.
Free online professional development (you must register):  Edmodocon2014

Resources:

Edmodo. (n.d.) In Wikipedia.  Retrieved July 2, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmodo

Friedman, T.  (2005, April).  The World is Flat.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  New York, NY.

Hutter, C.  (2014, June 6).  Edtech’s Next Phase [Web log comment].  Retrieved from http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/edtechs-next-phase/

Tate, R. (2014, June 17).  The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Social Network That Could Truly Reform Our Schools.  Wired.  Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2014/06/edmodo/